Involving Dads in Homeschooling

Moms often ask how to include their husbands in the homeschooling process. Dad is doing his best to earn the living that makes homeschooling possible, but he also may feel like he is not directly involved with the children’s education. There are many facets of education, and Dad can fit in during the free time he does have. Dad’s time with the children may often be limited, but it is always worth waiting for.

Reading — My husband did not read great quantities of books to our children, but he did read certain books over and over to them. Children know their favorite books by heart and instantly recognize anything added in or left out. His favorite trick was including a lizard that was never in the actual stories. He would be reading along and just say the word “lizard” while turning a page, change a character’s name to Larry the Lizard, or add an entirely new sentence about how the lizard who lived next door came over to play. The children shrieked with delight at every lizard, and lovingly scolded Dad that there was not supposed to be a lizard in that book.

Dads add character voices and sound effects all their own, beyond the bounds of Mom’s repertoire. It may be the deep resonance of Dad’s voice that can be physically felt while snuggled against his chest, but there is something extra-special about sitting in Daddy’s lap for a book.

Sports — My non-sports-nut husband took our kids biking, hiking, sledding, swimming, skating (standard & inline), bowling, and fishing, usually after a long, tiring day at work. He drove them to soccer practice, attended every game, and even helped out as assistant coach for a season. He got down and dirty playing paintball with our teenaged son and other dads and lads. Meanwhile, Mom, whose idea of cutting-edge sports is doing the Sunday crossword puzzle in ink, was very glad to have Dad’s enthusiastic partnership. No matter how hard I have tried, my athletic ability is moot. What I lack in talent and coordination I try to make up in enthusiasm. I would happily hold the family’s accumulated belongings while my husband accompanied the children on every ride the amusement park offered, knowing there was not enough motion-sickness medicine on the planet to get me through the three minutes of torture from a single ride. Without my husband’s participation, our children’s lives would have been sadly idle.

Rough-housing — Dads play horsey; Moms cuddle & kiss boo-boo’s. Children know that Dad will wrestle and toss them into the air and swing them around and around. Dads make every event thrilling just by being Dad. Too many times to count, I have said, “No, you probably shouldn’t do that — it looks dangerous,” only to have my husband grin and say, “Why not? Let’s try it!” I gave in because my husband was there to supervise, participate, or control the situation from getting out of hand. Dad added an element of surprise, a thrill of adventure, and a safety net all at the same time.

Dads teach weekend home improvement and car maintenance, as much through letting Little Brother watch as through actually allowing Bigger Brother help. Our Christmas breaks were often a time for our son to be Dad’s apprentice for painting, wiring the garage, removing wallpaper, or numerous small projects around the house. At age 18 my son readily stepped into the handyman roll at a friend’s apartment, having practiced the basics with Dad and Grandpa from a very young age.

Some homeschooling families are able to share the teaching responsibilities — we know a few Dads who like to teach their children upper level math and science. Other families have found that Dad’s work schedule did not allow him to contribute very often to the actual teaching process, and Mom could adequately cover their academics. Whatever and whenever Dad can participate, his contribution will leave a lasting impact. Dads are exciting — no matter what they do, it becomes an adventure, while Moms teach quietly unexciting homemaking skills. Dads use tools like drills and saws; Moms use rubber spatulas.

Include Dad in your homeschooling at every opportunity. It will be as much of an adventure for him as it is for Mom and the children. Remember, it does not have to involve books to be education.

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